Games

Experience The Horror Of Game Shows In New Teaser For Devotion

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 19:56

Red Candle Games made minor waves with last year's release of Detention, a sidescrolling horror title set in 1960s Taiwan. Now, the studio is sticking with Taiwan but jumping ahead a couple decades for its new game, Devotion.

A short teaser shows distorted '80s game show imagery, blazing out of a TV in an otherwise empty apartment. Red Candle has promised that players will explore the apartment's many haunted nooks and crannies and solve puzzles to progress the game. 

Devotion doesn't have a release window or supported platforms announced yet, but the previous title by the studio came out on Switch, PS4, and PC.

Categories: Games

Assassin's Creed's Creator Shares Screenshots And Gameplay GIFs From Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 22:16

Patrice Désilets was an integral figure at Ubisoft before leaving in 2010, rejoining, and then being fired in 2013. He directed Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and created the Assassin's Creed franchise, which today has grown far beyond his original vision. You can read all about his path in the games industry in detail here.

Since leaving Ubisoft, he and his new studio, Panache Digital Games, have been working on Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. After showing it privately to some folks at E3, Désilets has released a handful of screenshots and a few animated GIFs from the game.

 

Ancestors takes place in Africa 10 million years ago and occurs over millions of years, examining your evolution as you use your creativity to survive.

Désilets also offered some new details and clarifications. The game was originally imagined as an episodic game, and while that is no longer the case, Désilets does want follow-ups to The Humankind Odyssey to explore different time periods and different locations.

You can check out some gameplay GIFs below. It's unclear when Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will release, or what platforms it will be available on.

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Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 17:29

The latest update for Shenmue III sneaks in some information about the game alongside some nuts and bolts details for backers looking to secure their copy.

First of all, developer Ys Net has released a little video that shows just a tiny bit of in-engine footage from the game. I am hesitant to call it gameplay, but it's pretty safe to assume this is about the visual quality that can be expected form the game.

Alongside the video, the update on the official Shenmue III site details the game's minimum specs for PC, and also reveals the game's file size will be about 100 GB.

You will also find some details about the "Battle system" on that same page, though it is still a little ambiguous:

This control system lets you automatically unleash the perfect technique in response to the opponent’s positioning and distance. R&D for this system is based on Yu Suzuki’s concept for players who are not used to fighting games or for those who want a full immersion battle experience. This battle system is highly compatible with the current battle system, and will be implemented upon reaching the stretch goal.

Shenmue III is set for release next year on PC and PlayStation 4. For more on the Shenmue series, you can watch Andrew Reiner and me play Shenmue and Shenmue II in its entirety by following the links. You can also read up on my experience of how Shenmue held up for someone who played it for the first time 15 years after it released by heading here.

[Source: Shenmue III]

Categories: Games

Wreckfest Review: Crashing The Party

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 17:00

If there's anything to be learned from a game like Wreckfest, it's that thrashing around old bangers, running opponents into concrete barriers, and threading the needle between a group of crashing cars can, even in 2018, be brilliantly fun. After a four-year stint in Steam's early access, Wreckfest has hit the track with surprising confidence. Showing off its impressive soft-body collision system that lets colliding cars twist and crush with brutal realism and some fierce AI, every event is brimming with satisfaction. Wreckfest succeeds where it matters, becoming one of the most surprising and gratifying racing games of the year.

Wreckfest's career mode is made up of five different championships, each consisting of various events--from multi-race championships to one-off demolition derbys--that each gradually unlock as you gain XP and increase your driver level. In addition to XP, rewards are doled out regularly in the form of performance parts along with credits to buy new cars and parts with, so even a poor finish, which will happen, never feels like wasted time.

Most career events are a simple race to the finish where you'll have a handful of laps to hunt down the opposition and score as good a position as possible, giving you a chance to serve up mayhem while slicing through the field. Race starts are a gorgeous, chaotic mess that can feel like running a gauntlet as cars jostle and barge for position. They're also where the game's marquee destruction engine shows off its capabilities as cars fly off the course through wooden fences and tire barriers, sending debris scattering into the air and across the road. It can be spectacular to watch from a distance when tailing a pack of cars or during a replay, but equally brutal when you're the one involved in it.

Other event types include demolition derbys, where you try to turn your opponents' cars into cubes of twisted steel by smashing into them as hard as you can, and elimination-style heat races that normally take place on a closed figure eight track or an oval. There's also the occasional lawnmower derby, which shows off the game's slightly twisted sense of humor. Each mode not only offers some variety in destruction but is also visually spectacular in its own right. Landing a perfectly timed swipe that puts an opponent into the path of an oncoming car and watching the resulting destruction behind you looks just as great as slamming a school bus into a pack of Minis.

Damage in Wreckfest has two settings: normal and realistic. On normal, you and your opponents can survive more than your fair share of hard hits, making heavy impacts much more forgiving. But with realistic conditions, things get a lot tougher and a bit more spectacular too. Longer races become tests of survival, as all it takes is one bad collision to put a car out of contention (or at least change how it handles). A bad landing off a jump could destroy your suspension and send you into a wall of concrete that shatters spectacularly upon impact, and that's your race done. There's no rewinding time to fix your mistakes, either; you'll need to restart the race if it all goes south. But while this kind of repetition would normally be grating, the act of racing is so good that it takes the edge off.

When you do manage to escape the chaos and settle into a good driving rhythm, Wreckfest shows off some wonderful driving physics. The transition between different road surfaces is sublime, and regardless of whether you're driving with a top-of-the-line racing wheel or a gamepad, the sensation of sliding around a corner, catching the rear end, and gassing it all the way out feels superb. Tires slip and slide through the dirt but scream for grip on the tarmac, and you can almost feel them flexing as the car rolls through the corners.

Each type of car, from the hulking school bus all the way down to the miniature two-door Killerbee, feels different to drive. Some are heavier and more sluggish, while others are lighter and can corner better but suffer more in collisions. Upgrades to vehicles can substantially alter the handling, whether it's through better performance or a stronger chassis that's better at taking damage. Although having no way of saving upgrade sets can result in some minor headaches when optimising for each event type, overall it's a meaningful upgrade system with tangible effects on the already diverse feel of racing.

AI drivers race unapologetically no matter the scenario or difficulty level, unafraid to punt you off the road if they decide they want to get past or smashing into to you head first in an effort to take you out. If competing against AI isn't your bag, you can take it online and race against others on dedicated servers or set up your own custom race server with your own rules, and it all works smoothly.

It's rare when a racing game manages to modernize and reinvigorate an old formula with spectacular confidence, but Wreckfest does just that.

Compared to the dynamic gameplay, Wreckfest's user experience is a bit frustrating. The UI is surprisingly bland for such a technically impressive game, with static menus and a heavy rock soundtrack that's obnoxious enough to warrant immediately turning the music off. With that out of the way, you can more fully appreciate the game's excellent sound effects. Throaty engines belch and roar loudly--except for the lawnmower, which sounds like thousands of angry mosquitos--and crash sounds are impactful and bone-crunching. Equally as good are the game's visuals. The cars themselves, while all old, banged-up muscle cars, look suitably mean and ready for thrashing. Debris stays on the track over the course of a race, as do the littered remains of cars that don't make the distance. Heat races show off the course at different times of day, with the later heats often taking place as the sun starts to set and rays of sunlight pour through the gaps in the grandstands and trees. Replays give you the chance to relive your best moments, although the lack of a rewind function makes it a pain to focus in on specifics, forcing you to restart the replay from the beginning.

It's rare when a racing game manages to modernize and reinvigorate an old formula with spectacular confidence, but Wreckfest does just that. Minor issues with menus and its soundtrack aside, it wows with a gorgeous look and wonderful driving feel, along with a damage system that satisfies in the most brutal of fashions. With its array of different cars, tracks, and event types, Wreckfest is a brilliantly fun and frenetic racing game that can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone, not just racing game fans.

Categories: Games

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus Nintendo Switch Review

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 01:00

Following Doom in 2017, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is the next Bethesda shooter to make its way to Nintendo Switch. It's a bit strange to see The New Colossus on a new platform before its predecessor, The New Order, but jumping in for a second playthrough is a nice excuse to try it out on different hardware. Unfortunately, The New Colossus suffers from significant performance issues in Switch's handheld mode; in docked mode, however, it runs smoothly, albeit with rougher textures than other versions of the game. But as long as you play docked, preferably with a Pro Controller, some lower-quality textures hardly detract from what makes The New Colossus such a memorable game.

The base game is here in its entirety, with no edits or changes to its themes or story. For those who haven't played The New Order, the optional recap at the beginning of The New Colossus will get you up to speed on most important characters and plot points. The opening level is as hard-hitting as ever; gravely injured, protagonist BJ Blazkowicz has flashbacks of his abusive, racist father before waking to a Nazi attack and fighting back from his wheelchair. It sets the tone for a game that's both serious and completely over-the-top, with frequent shifts between the two that generally enhance the story's impact.

The New Colossus' campaign is hard; Wolfenstein newcomers will probably find a challenge on the second of the game's six difficulty levels, while returning players can safely bump up the difficulty. You can approach a fight from a number of angles--from very stealthy to extremely loud and bombastic--and weapon upgrades and unlockable perks can help you more effectively pursue your strategy of choice. Things go awry often, and there's a fantastic tension in knowing you'll have to adapt to (and overcome) anything the game throws at you. All of this is maintained on Switch, though not without caveats depending on how you play.

With a Pro Controller, combat works as well as it does on other platforms. Using the Switch's Joy-Cons instead, however, presents unwelcome challenges. Stubbier analog sticks and clickier triggers noticeably alter the feel of combat, making aiming in particular more choppy. The added motion aiming smooths it out somewhat, but it's hard to use while running or strafing, since you have to manually re-center your view if it goes off-kilter. The regular aim assist, which locks on to enemies when you first aim down sights rather than tracking them continuously, can also help with the inevitable frustration. But neither option is a great substitute for using the Pro Controller.

The New Colossus runs impressively well in docked mode, especially considering the Switch's capabilities compared to other platforms. The game's beautifully directed, pre-rendered cutscenes maintain their quality here, and the frame rate is generally consistent even when combat is at its most frenetic. There are some muddier textures to contend with, but the resistance fighters get the worst of it; weapons, armored enemies, and levels themselves still look good, though not as good as they do elsewhere. According to The New Colossus' director--and based on the Doom port's performance--the game maxes at 720p. As long as you can overlook some lower-quality visuals, the story and gameplay make The New Colossus well worth it.

Unfortunately, handheld mode doesn't hold up nearly as well. There's an ever-present blur, and combined with the small screen, it can be hard to see enemies and items. Frame rate drops in combat (and even some cutscenes) made me motion sick at worst, rendering the game unplayable. Even if you aren't susceptible to motion sickness, the inconsistent frame rate is noticeable enough to be annoying. Combined with the drawbacks of using Joy-Cons, it's hard to recommend playing The New Colossus handheld at all.

As long as you're able to play the entire game in docked mode, The New Colossus is the same fantastic game it is on other platforms. It runs well and, despite some minor visual compromises, it still looks pretty good. Handheld mode is unfortunately far less optimized, and the Joy-Cons simply don't feel as good to use as the Pro Controller. If Switch is your only way to play it, The New Colossus is absolutely worth your time--just not on the go.

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 21:15

Blade Strangers, a 2D fighting game made by Studio Saizensen of Code of Princess fame, is releasing on August 28 on Switch, PS4, and PC.

The sprite-based fighter beings together the characters under Studio Saizensen's banner as well as characters from Cavestory, Binding of Isaac, Mighty Gunvolt, and Shovel Knight. You can check out the release date trailer below.

The game includes a story mode for each character, as well as online battles, tutorials, and a surprising number of features for an indie fighting game.

 

I am surprised at how good the game looks in motion. I don't know how good Studio Saizensen is at making fighting games, but I am at least interested.
Categories: Games

Bloodstained's Story Trailer Shows Demonic Destruction Taking Place

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 20:00

It is not like Koji Igarashi, made famous for heading Castlevania during its exploratory Metroid-like days, has not been hiding Bloodstained's lineage and Castlevania influence. Igarashi is going to do what he does best. That comes across in the new story trailer for the game, which pits main character Miriam against the hordes of demons of the night.

Check out the story trailer below.

Miriam is played by Erica Lindberg, who is probably best known as Futaba from Persona 5. Zangetsu, who was the main character in prequel game Curse of the Moon, is voiced by David Hayter of Solid Snake fame. Ray Chase voices Gebel, who you would probably know as Final Fantasy XV's Noctis.

In addition, the backer demo for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night released today, so if you backed at a high enough tier for that code, you can give the E3 demo a try. The demo was supposed to come out last week, but was held back due to some bug fixes.

Categories: Games

Lumines Remastered: Groove Is In The Heart

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 20:00

Seconds after I started up Challenge Mode in Lumines Remastered, Mondo Grosso's "Shinin'" perked up and the energetic sounds of an acoustic guitar began to weave around a trance beat. I dropped my first block, and quickly cleared the first sparkling squares of the stage, triggering that familiar twinkle sound effect. Suddenly, it was like 2004 was yesterday, 10 stages were unlocked before I even knew 45 minutes had passed, and I realized just how much I missed Lumines.

It shouldn't have been a surprise. Many of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's music-based games dabble in synesthesia, the concept of associating one kind of sensory memory with another. In Mizuguchi's games, it's the persistent marriage of sound, sight, and even touch. Lumines isn't as all-encompassing an experience as Rez or Child of Eden--though, in a nice touch, if you have the extra controllers, Lumines Remastered does include Rez's Trance Vibration options--but the way that it plays havoc with your senses is very much in line with Mizuguchi's other work.

At its most basic, Lumines is a color-matching game where 2x2 blocks of two colors in various configurations drop from the top of the screen, and your challenge is to create solid squares of the same color at the bottom. At minimum, you can create a 2x2 brick, but even bigger configurations can be made if you're quick and strategic enough to line them up. Every stage is, essentially, a self-contained EDM-centric environment, with its own visual scheme, song, and rhythm, which dictates how fast completed blocks can be cleared by the line that travels across the screen. As the line moves it highlights and removes any squares you've made, potentially resulting in huge, gratifying bursts of light and sound.

Lumines starts simple but steadily escalates into frantic, eye-popping chaos by the end of each track. Because the rhythm of a particular song dictates the flow of a level and the pace of your block-clearing opportunities, failure in Lumines feels like dancing awkwardly and gradually losing the ability to catch the beat. On the other hand, successfully creating blocks and forming large combos measure after measure is like falling into a trance on the dance floor and losing yourself to the music.

Lumines Remastered isn't a vast visual jump over the hitherto best-looking version of the game, the Xbox 360/PS3 edition. It is, however, noticeably cleaner, without the slowdown that sometimes afflicted other versions when the game is at its busiest. The visual enhancements are more appreciable when comparing the mobile and Vita versions against the Switch version in handheld mode. While most previous Lumines modes are present in Remastered, you won't find Single Skin mode (where you could stick with one particular stage/song for an entire playthrough), the Sequencer from Lumines II (where you could create your own soundtracks), and--quite disappointingly--any sort of online multiplayer.

The lack of online features hurts the most, but it's not like Lumines is short on replay value. Beyond the regular Challenge modes, you still get a Time Attack, Puzzle Mode, Mission Mode, and a VS mode against either the CPU or a second player. Between Puzzle and Mission Mode, there are hundreds of bonus tasks to tackle, and many will make you scratch your head for hours on end while never feeling impossible.

Puzzle Mode will challenge you to clear squares in such a way that the leftover blocks create a specific, assigned shape, like a blocky horse or a screen-wide X. It's more about creative placement and a sense of foresight than anything--similar to building something out of Lego, except the bricks have a nasty habit of disappearing. Mission Mode's tasks can vary between strict single-solution challenges, especially early on, to simple races against the clock. It's easier, but no less entertaining. VS mode is pretty much exactly what it says it is: Lumines, but where two players play using half of the playing area each, and every cleared square pushes the boundary of the playing area towards your opponent, enpanding the amount of space you have to play with and shrinking it for your enemy.

Lumines is the kind of game that temporarily rewires your brain, splicing together its ability to recognize visual patterns and audible rhythms simultaneously and forcing you to do the hard but delightful work of putting that ability to use. Having that experience so lovingly presented--and on the Switch, having Lumines handheld again for the first time in six years--is an occasion worth celebrating.

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 18:20

Games these days value robot "feelings" too much. That's the thesis posed by Blazing Chrome, a sidescrolling robot-blasting romp inspired by games like Contra and Metal Slug. Earlier this year we said it was one of the best games we saw at PAX, and that feeling only continues with this new trailer.

The trailer shows two players riding on hoverbikes, running along a train, getting murdered by a giant flying mech, and more. There's no platform information yet, but the developers are aiming for a 2018 release. If this vertical slice is anything to go on, the game is looking pretty swell so far. 

More info is on the game's site, here.

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 16:00

You might remember Mothergunship when it was announced a little while back. Since then, we listed it as one of the best indie games we played at PAX West and did a deep dive into the game earlier this month. Finally, the developers are ready to tell the world when they can finally get their hands on the game and it's only a few weeks until its release of July 17.

Mothergunship tasks players with taking down an alien invasion by blowing up everything between them and the mothership. Players gain gun parts and customize the weirdest and most powerful guns to blast their way through with their own creative methods of combining parts.

Check out the launch announcement trailer below.

The game is brought to you by Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games, who brought Tower of Guns out in 2014. Mothergunship will also have a retail release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with details to be confirmed at a later date.

Categories: Games

Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy Review: Marsupial Makeover

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 16:00

When Crash Bandicoot hit the scene in the '90s, it didn't take long for him to become the de facto PlayStation mascot. He didn't reach the same level of popularity as Mario or Sonic, but the original Crash games were charming platformers that resonated with audiences thanks to expressive characters and diverse environments. And unlike his peers, Crash was born in 3D; Mario and Sonic merely adopted it.

With the arrival of the N. Sane Trilogy collection, we now have the chance to revisit the first three Crash games in style, and while they look better than ever, they're otherwise direct replicas of the original games. Developed by Vicarious Visions, the N. Sane Trilogy collection features remastered versions of Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot: Warped. Gone are the rudimentary character models in favor of more realistic-looking creatures and environments, and a new lighting system bakes a measure of realism into the otherwise cartoonish world, giving the games a quality similar to 3D cartoons from the likes of Pixar or Dreamworks.

While it's easy to look at these games and appreciate the care that's gone into their presentation, actually playing them stirs up conflicting emotions. There's no way around it: they remain dated despite their fresh look. Enemies rarely react to you, preferring instead to follow pre-determined paths and animation loops. And many obstacles are needlessly discouraging; Razor-thin tolerances for success and one-hit deaths make for a frustrating pairing. You can control Crash using an analog stick now, but smoother pivots and jumps don't alleviate the otherwise stiff gameplay lurking behind Crash's goofy exterior.

Not all levels are out to get you, however, and for the most part the N. Sane Trilogy offers a modest challenge that's perfectly suited for casual enjoyment. The ease at which you can fly through some stages allows you to experience a wide range of scenarios as well: you will carefully navigate the electrified waters of an eel infested sewer one minute and ride on the back of a tiger through a gauntlet of angry locals atop the Great Wall of China the next. There are also a handful of levels that allow you to reenact the famous boulder sequence from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, though you may be running from a massive polar bear instead of a boulder depending on the particular game in question.

This is all to say that Crash is what it's always been: a charming collection of platforming challenges that shift gears from one stage to the next. By putting three games next to each other, the N. Sane Trilogy overflows with nostalgia. The warm and fuzzy feeling you get from seeing familiar Crash levels presented in a way that mirrors what you held in your imagination is undeniable. But so too is the reality that Crash games aren't timeless. No amount of lighting or funny animations can make up for the rudimentary 3D platforming on display. You could even say that the look of these games belies their true nature.

The culprit behind Crash's dated feel is the passage of time. Vicarious Visions, for its part, succeeded in revitalizing Crash from an artistic perspective while preserving the charm that made him appealing when he first showed up, but years have passed since the original PlayStation was relevant, and we are well past the formative years of 3D gaming. It's easy to imagine how a dyed-in-the-wool Crash fan will fall in love all over again via the N. Sane Trilogy, but if you're experiencing Crash for the first time--or the first time in a while--it might pain you to realize that Crash's original adventures aren't as inventive or surprising as they were 20 years ago.

Editor's note: The score has been updated to reflect the Xbox One, PC, and Switch versions of the game.--June 28, 2018, 8:00 AM PT

Categories: Games

The Crew 2 Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 02:06

Trans-American driving game The Crew 2 is currently available to anyone who pre-ordered and will be widely available on June 29. I've been playing it too, but I'm not quite ready to make a definitive judgment on the game yet. 12 hours in, I've worked my way through dozens of different races and activities in single-player mode (with minimal free-roam exploration), to stock up on cash, build and upgrade my car collection, as well as progress in popularity and status as efficiently as I can. I’ve hit the endgame rank of Icon, but that doesn't mean much--I’ve only completed around half of the game’s immense roster of events, and as it turns out, you can keep earning additional Icon levels until you hit 99.

The Crew 2 is a big game, with a gargantuan open world, multiple vehicle styles, and lots to do. But most importantly, I haven’t been able to experience what is supposed to be one of the biggest drawcards of the game: other drivers. The Crew 2 is always-online and encourages you to tear around the USA and take part in events with other players in a, well, crew. But during the pre-release period on PlayStation 4, I’ve yet to encounter another driver, though the leaderboards tell me there are definitely people out there somewhere. I’ll update this review with full conclusions once the game has some proper time in the wild, but read on for my impressions so far.

It's surprising to see just how much The Crew 2 differs from the original game. There's been a noticeable shift in Ubisoft’s last few open-world titles, one that's moving toward a focus on player-driven progression--large selections of optional activities, non-linear structures, rewards for doing just about anything--and The Crew 2 benefits significantly from this direction.

The gritty crime angle from the original game is gone, and instead, The Crew 2 takes reams of pages from the book of Forza Horizon. The game centers on a nationwide festival of motorsports where you, a rookie, are poised to become the next big star. While the setup is conventional, and the focus on social media followers can be irritating, what it brings to the game is a colorful and upbeat vibe, an impressive variety of different vehicular activities, and positively ridiculous arcade driving on land, water, and through the air.

Races in The Crew 2 might involve sending your car off a twenty-story skyscraper, or your boat off the Hoover Dam. They might include making high-speed touring cars go head to head through the tight, windy Hollywood Hills, and motocross bikes take jumps across shipping freighters. This is a game that will cover Los Angeles in three feet of snow for no logical reason, other than icy roads make for thrilling street races. Abundant nitro boosts, uncomplicated drifting, and generous rubber-banding also help keep the act of driving exciting when things are relatively tamer.

"This is fine."

But what has left the biggest impression on me is how player-friendly this game is. As an open-world driving game, races can naturally be found and started at a particular location in the world. Smaller challenges can easily be stumbled upon while exploring or located using the world map. But if you want to get straight to business, The Crew has an option to view all its activities in a categorized, list-style view, with the option to not just set a waypoint to them, but instantly start them no matter where you are in the world, at no cost. The loading times in The Crew 2 are impressively brief all around, so if you wanted to, you can churn through many races back-to-back to efficiently rack up progression points and cash, or decide to knock out all the smaller speed-gate challenges in one go to set your records for the leaderboard.

Any activity can be restarted or aborted in seconds you're having a bad run, there's a quick back-on-track feature that can be used any time, and when you're not in an event you can switch to any vehicle you own immediately, without penalty. That's on top of being able to assign a favorite ground vehicle, boat, and plane to your right analog stick to allow for instantaneous switching during free-roam exploration, which provides its own kind of fun, for example, flying into the stratosphere with your plane before switching to a boat and careening back to Earth. Any vehicle that's available for sale is also graciously available for you to test drive on a moment's notice.

The variety of different vehicular disciplines in The Crew 2 is downright impressive--each of the 14 styles is tangibly unique from one another. Every time I started to get fatigued with one method of competition, I could quickly jump to another that had a completely different feel. Each is housed within one of four "Families" which you're free to move between: Street (street racing, drifting, drag racing, long-distance hypercar racing), Offroad (cross-country rally raid, motocross, loose-surface rallycross), Freestyle (plane aerobatics, jet sprint boating, monster trucking), and Pro (power boating, air racing, touring cars, and grand prix).

While the execution of The Crew 2's disciplines might not wholly satisfy purists of any one given style, I can say that it does a great job of making each feel accessible and fun. I'm usually too intimidated by grand prix racing to give a shot, and I never would have even considered the idea of playing a power boating game. But, the Crew 2 encouraged me to get a taste of everything, and that's thanks to the game's approachable arcade-style mechanics, as well as the prospects of seeing more beautiful and ludicrous tracks.

Those tracks are certainly one of the highlights of the game, because there's an inherent novelty to the virtual tourism of The Crew 2. You'll likely recognize iconic structures, but there are also enough abstracted details for the game to capture just enough of each city's atmosphere and character. And, like the original game, The Crew 2 does a great job at building a seamless and believable version of America to drive through, whether it's a designated top-to-bottom endurance race or a self-assigned recreation of a cross-country road trip you did a few years back (with some detours to hunt for the game's new Live crates, using a Far Cry 2-style tracker). The journey across the country feels grounded, as you drive through cities that morph into industrial areas and farmland, into plains, deserts, forests and rural areas, occasionally flying by a small town now and then.

And whether you're driving, boating, or flying across The Crew 2's America, it's a mostly beautiful journey. The game's natural environments, particularly bodies of water and the sky, look fantastic, as do weather effects like snow and rain. All are enhanced to breathtaking heights by the superb lighting. Where the visuals visibly falter are in dense urban areas--you likely won't notice the buildings when you're zooming past them at 200km/h, but any slower and you can't help but notice how plain they are, especially in broad daylight with clear skies. Character models, on the other hand, always look a little terrifying.

Ah, beautiful Los Angeles!

The game's RPG-style vehicle upgrade system returns from the original game, though it still doesn't feel particularly meaningful. You'll receive loot after every race in various stages of rarity (uncommon, rare, epic), and each corresponds to a particular vehicle part and has its own power number, which contributes to your vehicle's overall power number. There's some small benefit to this system--every vehicle of a particular class, despite starting with different power levels, will max out at the same number, meaning you can stick with your favorite car all the way up to and through the endgame.

But while some parts come with unique gameplay perks, and more professional tuning options eventually become available, I found the upgrade system pretty easy to ignore--simply equipping the one with the biggest number was all I had to do to stay competitive. This system feels like it's there to act as an additional roadblock to make sure your progress to higher tiers of races stays gradual. Another obstacle is the cost of the vehicles you're required to purchase to be able to participate in certain disciplines. I haven’t needed to dip into the game's real-world currency equivalent yet, but buying a vehicle so I can access a high-end discipline like air racing or grand prix will usually empty out my in-game wallet completely.

Despite these artificial-feeling roadblocks stopping me from progressing any faster than my current pace, The Crew 2 continues to be a delightful driving game that I look forward to playing. The feel of the driving and the challenge on normal difficulty feels just right, and there are so many great experiences to be had, from the indulgent to the exhilarating. You could be leisurely riding Harley Davidson motorcycles through the Grand Canyon at sunset, and then be flinging a jet sprint boat back and forth as you weave through the Everglades minutes later. You could be driving off mountains in a rally raid and taking risky paths through dense forests, or you could be flying through Monument Valley in a World War II Spitfire jet fighter, just because you needed a moment to relax.

I'm aiming to finish up as much content as I can before servers start populating at launch, and I'm also keen to start playing with friends to see how the dynamics change, for better or worse, when other people are involved. I'm also yet to dive deep into the vehicle customization and photo/video editor, though I like what I've seen. So far, I'm very much enjoying The Crew 2 as a single-player experience, and I'll be back to give a full review when I feel like I've seen the whole picture.

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Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 23:20

Eighteen years ago, when Capcom was preparing to release Mega Man X5 on the PlayStation in America, the task of localization fell to third-party localization company Genazea. At the time, Genazea was headed by Erik Suzuki, the editorial supervisor for Resident Evil 2 before he founded a separate company to work with multiple companies. When Mega Man X5 rolled in, Suzuki asked his wife Alyson Court, also known as the English voice for Claire Redfield, to name the Maverick bosses in the game. Before X5, they were all usually named with an descriptive word and then an animal name – Chill Penguin, Crystal Snail, Cyber Peacock, etc. Court, knowing her husband was a Guns N' Roses fan, suggested that they name the bosses after Guns N' Roses references. This meant names like Duff McWhalen, Axle the Red (who has a rose on his head), and Squid Adler. They both liked the idea.

In the years since, fans made it clear that they weren't fans of the changed boss names, and no Mega Man title has taken that kind of liberty with the names again. The full story about it was told by Alyson Court in a now-deleted Twitter post from 2011, but Capcom themselves have never really commented on it.

In yesterday's trailer for Mega Man X Legacy Collection's X Challenge mode, we noticed that some boss names were changed, like Dark Dizzy from the original localization being renamed Dark Necrobat. We reached out to Capcom to confirm if this was indeed the case.

"In our mission to make these collections an authentic Mega Man X experience," a Capcom spokesperson told us, "we took the opportunity to better align the naming of the Mega Man X5 Mavericks across all regions for better narrative cohesion across the series, making the names more aligned with the original Japanese version release. We hope that fans appreciate our intent to unify the Mega Man X Maverick-naming convention all these years later."

So that's that, the 18-year-old Guns N' Roses references are no more. It isn't known whether other translation errors found in the later X games are still in, or if the voice acted boss name announcements of X5 are being redone, but I imagine we'll find out when Mega Man X Legacy Collection comes out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch on July 24.

 

I actually never liked the names, but I'm still surprised they're changing them. I bet there are people who like the names that are going to be upset that a Legacy Collection doesn't keep them.
Categories: Games

Nier: Automata Review

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 04:00

The post-apocalyptic world of Nier: Automata thrives on its mysteries. Its ruined Earth setting is a playground of mayhem where fashionable androids lay waste to less sophisticated looking robots. Its premise of a never-ending war is initially straightforward. But if you know anything about the game's director, Yoko Taro, then you know to expect the unexpected. That includes everything from an unusual soundtrack steeped in vocals to a battle-hardened heroine who walks with the swagger of a supermodel. Automata also delivers a well-executed and refined combat system, the level of which alone makes Automata well worth the price of admission.

You initially see Automata from the perspective of a female android named 2B who is part of YoRHa, a group of artificial soldiers tasked with wiping the Earth of its hostile robots and their alien creators. This conflict is all the more poignant due to humanity's displacement to the moon, an exodus that occurred hundreds of years ago. Joining 2B on most of her missions is 9S, a male android who lacks 2B's dual weapon-wielding prowess but compensates with invaluable hacking skills. They start off as strangers, but through the obstacles they overcome, an obvious closeness begins to form. This is thanks in part to Automata's sensational anime-as-hell archetypes and story beats.

Given that Earth is utterly overrun with homicidal machines, making Earth hospitable seems like a tall order. But this challenge is softened by the manageable size of Automata's open world, which is equivalent to a small city. It entices exploration without feeling intimidating, and it's hard to get lost once you've run through the same paths a couple times. Much of the backtracking stems from the game's numerable side quests, where you help your fellow androids on simple errands and kill missions. While most of these tasks aren't especially memorable, they do add character to world. Furthermore, monotony is minimized by the convenience of fast travel and swift steeds like moose and boars.

The brightside of being a robot exterminator in Automata is that your canvas of destruction is the product of Platinum Games. Their penchant for feverishly fast and elegant combat is on full display with visuals that echo even the most outrageous attacks from Bayonetta. Combat evolves beyond mindlessly mashing on quick and strong attacks thanks to the variety of bladed weapon styles. Combining any two types produces uniquely flashy animations and, more importantly, damaging results. You can trigger other gorgeous maneuvers by attacking after pulling off a slick dodge cartwheel or by holding down either of the two attack buttons. 9S' own skill with a sword makes him a substantial AI-controlled contributor, and his ability to keep up with 2B make the battles look positively frenzied. Given the demanding yet rewarding high-dexterity combat and the acrobatic skills of 2B, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say that Automata is the closest thing there is to a spiritual successor to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, also developed by Platinum.

You're expected to use tools and techniques beyond the two main attack inputs if you have any hope of victory in ever encounter. Your pod companion--which echoes Grimoire Weiss, the floating book from the first Nier--provides you with various forms of support. Not only does the pod provide you with a sustained ranged attack, it's another outlet for personalizing your approach to combat. You can swap in a wide variety of passive performance enhancing chips, that provide you with stat buffs and helpful automated commands. Relying on your pod to automatically use one of your health items when your HP drops below a certain point makes healing one less thing to worry about. Your pod allows you to focus on other survival concerns, like kicking ass and looking good in the process.

Given the demanding yet rewarding high-dexterity combat and the acrobatic skills of 2B, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say that Automata is the closest thing there is to a spiritual successor to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, also developed by Platinum.

If you ever run out of healing items and get murdered by enemy robot, however, you’ll lose your experience points if you can't return to the point of your last death. This is similar to the style of difficulty popularized by Dark Souls with an additional risk of loss: along with the suspense of potentially losing experience you've earned since your last save, you can also lose all of your pod's installed chips, with the exception of the mandatory operating system chip.

While Automata resoundingly delivers that specific flavor of stylish combat found in Platinum's best works, it never overshadows Taro's distinct directorial handiwork and penchant for unconventional game and narrative design. It's the type of production that seamlessly blends story, hack-and-slash combat, and--believe it or not--an engaging bullet-hell shooter component. You don't question the infantile behaviors of many of the enemy robots because they're so darn endearing. And you don't get an explanation for 2B's cosplay-ready gothic lolita outfits, how she manages to move smoothly through a desert in heels, or why some of her comrades behave like self-involved teenagers. You just go along with it because of Automata's captivating world and involving battles.

Taro's unorthodox approach to game design is best exemplified by Automata's multiple endings and the varying degrees of substance in those conclusions. He's not above novelty or gag endings, though the real rewards are the five major endings and the various journeys to each one. You don't get the complete picture until you reach those five endings. As you travel down these various paths, you're not only introduced to new events, but also given new perspectives to moments you've already experienced. Your forward progress isn't propelled by the mere compulsion to achieve 100% completion; you're simply pulled by curiosity to learn more about what happened to Earth and humanity.

Thanks to Platinum Games' knack for riveting and gratifying combat, Automata is Yoko Taro's most exciting game to date. The combat mechanics click after hurdling a low learning curve, and the end result is a skillful dance where balletic dodges complement wushu-inspired aggression. Moreover, this multi-ending trip is generously peppered with surprises and revelations, as well as easter eggs that call back to the first game and the Drakengard series from which Nier spun off. It's a meaty, often exhilarating trek that showcases Platinum Games' and Yoko Taro's unique blend of genius.

Editor’s note: Nier: Automata has released on Xbox One as the Become As Gods Edition, which includes the 3C3C1D119440927 DLC along with several cosmetic items for the main characters and pods. We tested the new Xbox One version by playing through the first three hours of the game, and it runs at a stable frame rate at 4K on the Xbox One X. Most importantly, everything we love about Nier: Automata is, of course, still here: the evocative soundtrack, unique narrative style, and affecting story are as strong as ever. We have updated the score to include the Xbox One version. - June 26, 8:00 PM PT

Categories: Games

Mega Man X Legacy Collection's X Challenge Mode Trailer Shows Harrowing New Boss Arrangements

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 19:39

Mega Man X Legacy Collection is following in the footsteps of the previous Mega Man Legacy Collections, but is going a step further with the new X Challenge Mode. 

The new mode pits X in a new armor set against bosses from the series history. Rather than being a simple boss rush, however, the X Challenge mode combines Mavericks from different games and puts them into a single room with X. The bosses are arranged by themes, like ice bosses Chill Penguin and Frost Walrus together, Spiral Pegasus and Dark Necrobat to represent light and shadow, and the genuinely upsetting combination of Vile and High Max.

X only gets to choose two weapons aside from the X Buster to bring with him to the fights, which is a lot harder than it sounds. You can check out a trailer of the X Challenge fights below.

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 is releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch on July 24.

Categories: Games

Fallout 76's E3 Conference Gameplay Is Now Available Online

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 20:35

If you watched Bethesda's E3 conference, you saw all of Fallout 76 that the publisher was willing to show last week. If you missed the conference and only care about Fallout and don't want to watch an Andrew W.K. mini-concert or talk about The Elder Scrolls Online before getting to what you want, Bethesda has made the Fallout 76 gameplay portion of the conference available online.

You can hear Todd Howard talk about the new online Fallout here. 

Fallout 76 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

The Awesome Adventures Of Captain Spirit - Stranger Things

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 17:00

Warning: This review contains minor spoilers for Life Is Strange and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a short Life is Strange episode set before the upcoming Life Is Strange 2, and it doesn't cost a cent to download and play. A cynic might call it a simple act of marketing, a demo to whet our appetites. But Captain Spirit feels like much more than that, despite sticking to a single location and ending pretty quickly. It's more like the Ground Zeroes to Life is Strange 2's The Phantom Pain: it hints towards what the next series might be like, with a nice visual upgrade and a few new mechanics, but it also feels whole as it is. From the moment Sufjan Stevens' haunting, gorgeous track "Death with Dignity" kicked in over the opening montage, I was hooked on The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. It is a beautiful game.

Captain Spirit is the playful superhero alter-ego of Chris Eriksen, a young boy with a love of comics, an untarnished sense of childlike wonder, and a bubbling inner turmoil and grief that rarely cracks the surface. Chris lives alone with his dad, Charles, a former basketball star whose life has been on a downward trajectory for years. The pair live alone in a drab, cheaply built house on the outskirts of Beaver Creek. Chris' mother died some time ago, and without getting into the specifics, there are parallels to Chloe's situation in the original Life is Strange. It's odd to see Captain Spirit dipping so explicitly into that same emotional well, because otherwise, it is very much its own thing, despite a few interesting links to the original game for eagle-eyed players to find and speculate on.

The game--which runs for maybe three hours if you're a completionist, but can be sped through much faster--takes place across a single Saturday morning. It opens, charmingly, with Chris doodling a superhero costume, giddy at the prospect of having a full day to play. It's up to you how you want to spend that Saturday. Most of the objectives in the game are strictly optional, and you can "finish" the game having completed very few of them, but Chris' stated desire is to go on various adventures as Captain Spirit. These range from the mundane to the fantastical--Captain Spirit needs to throw snowballs at beer bottles to improve his aim and play with all his toys to "check in" on them, but he also needs to assemble the parts of his costume to go on bigger adventures, like defeating the Snowmonger (an evil-looking snowman), and the water-hoarding "monster" in his home (a malfunctioning water heater). There's a whole mythology to Chris' games and fantasies, and they're a delight to dig into.

Mechanically, completing these objectives boils down to standard adventure game puzzling. You travel around the interior and yard of the Eriksen house, building up your inventory and figuring out how to solve numerous puzzles. In fact, Captain Spirit is far more of a classical adventure game than many titles in the genre have been since Telltale's The Walking Dead, and it's all the better for it. The puzzles, while rarely challenging, have a nice sense of logic and order to them that make them satisfying.

Chris is a great character, too. He's a believably childlike 10-year-old, which is rare not just in games, but in any media. He's dealing with a difficult life as best he can, and succeeds as a sympathetic figure. He also has a powerful imagination, which sometimes sends him off into fantasy sequences as he does battle with Captain Spirit's "enemies." These are cutscenes rather than playable sections, but they're visually inventive and fun nevertheless, working as metaphors for Chris' grief and fears, and they give some insight into how the boy's mind works. The game is also beautifully coy about whether Chris has any sort of power akin to Max's ability to rewind time in the first game. The line is cleverly blurred, as Chris is often shown performing what looks to be telekinesis only for a pullback to reveal that it was something much more mundane--a remote control nestled in his concealed hand when he turns the TV on with his "mind," to give one example. But there's a strong hint that there's more to it than what we see. Charmingly, these moments--and the fantasy sequences--are labeled as "hero" choices, which can be triggered when Chris wants to do something befitting of a hero.

Between these moments of imagined bravado, you'll be pulled right back to earth when you're hunting through boxes and finding letters and drawings by Chris' mother, or finding things his dad didn't want him to see. Captain Spirit is surprisingly moving, and the aforementioned Sufjan Stevens track is used a few times to devastating effect. I ended up playing through Captain Spirit three times to test out all the different dialog options, and while I couldn't affect truly significant change--the ending was the same each time--picking away at the game and finding everything hidden in it was a satisfying experience.

While Chris enjoys his morning, his dad sits on the couch watching basketball and drinking, occasionally giving compliments or barking orders as his mood--and his level of sobriety--shifts. Without, again, spoiling the specifics, Charles is a fundamentally bad dad, a heavy drinker with a violent streak that, one can surmise, is getting worse over time. We see him through his son's eyes, though, and the naivety of Chris--who only sees the efforts of his father and is too young to fully comprehend how bad things have gotten--is heartbreaking. At a few points in the game, you can discover nice things Charles has planned for his son, and Chris is very vocal about how much he loves his father.

The first Life is Strange often went quite broad with characters, especially when you first met them, but there was an underlying complexity to them. This is even truer here and the important thing with Charles, at least in this short episode, is that he's a more complex figure than an outright monster--however, it never feels like the writers are excusing how awful he's being. This is a hard line to walk, but the game successfully condemns the man in a realistic way, acknowledging that abusers with some humanity are still, at their core, abusers. The script is tight too, with dialog that is free of dated terms or incongruities. A few exchanges start to sound stilted once you've played through multiple times and have a sense of how all the pieces fit together, but that's perhaps unavoidable.

Life is Strange gained a huge cult following, and whether you're a veteran or a newcomer, Captain Spirit captures a lot of the original game's appeal. Regardless of how you classify The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit--whether it's a standalone adventure, a demo, or a prologue--it's a beautiful game, and one that leaves you all the more excited about Life is Strange 2.

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Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 06/23/2018 - 07:31

Today is the 27th anniversary livestream for Sonic the Hedgehog, which unfortunately did not have any loud buzzing sounds or people in Sonic costumes being awkwardly asked to stop dancing and exit the stage. It did, however, have an announcement of a few new characters for Team Sonic Racing.

Amy comes with a pink car that she is basically invisible standing against, the Chao which is actually four Chao driving together have a pod-like buggy, and Big the Cat has a big green car that looks like Froggy and has a fishing rod in the back. 

Team Sonic Racing later this year on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Switch.

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Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 01:22

At E3 this year, Life is Strange creators Dontnod revealed a new story set in the Life is Strange universe, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. The episode will be free to download and the developers have confirmed it is launching one day earlier than its initially revealed date next Tuesday. The game is now launching on June 25.

Here are the release timings for when you will be able to download and play #CaptainSpirit entirely for free! pic.twitter.com/G1epJ2noDf

— DONTNOD_Ent (@DONTNOD_Ent) June 21, 2018

The game supposedly sets up the story of Life is Strange's sequel series, but it's currently unknown why or how. The episode will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 22:38

Announced in a Reddit AMA today, Ubisoft confirmed that Assassin's Creed Odyssey will have a reversible cover, each side featuring a different playable character.

Q: Will Assassin's Creed Odyssey have a reversible cover? - Rubensaurus pic.twitter.com/E05RdHWRVK

— Assassin's Creed (@assassinscreed) June 21, 2018

One side of the cover will represent Alexios, the male choice, while Kassandra, the female choice, is on the otherside. While it isn't said there which cover will be the default one, Ubisoft did confirm in a later answer that Kassandra is the canon story. They did emphasize, however, that there's no incorrect choice between the two.

Q: Will there be a definitive canon story? - TheOneAlistair pic.twitter.com/ekRM7CBgvJ

— Assassin's Creed (@assassinscreed) June 21, 2018

If you want to learn more about Assassin's Creed Odyssey, check out New Gameplay Today playing through a good chunk of the new game, wrote down ten things to know about the game, and explain how the latest AC title is doubling down on Assassin's Creed Origins' RPG elements.

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